합 Collaboration – a review of the exhibition by Vittoria Biasi

The Collaboration exhibition at the Korean Cultural Centre in London is an important event organised by The Korean Artists Association in the UK.

Exhibition View
Exhibition View

The Korean Cultural Centre’s project gives priority to spreading the knowledge of oriental creative thought with annual exhibitions in which the KAA member artists express their ideas through art in different media. Additionally, the cohesion and unity of the KAA artists gives them the possibility to reinforce their links with the UK. This year’s exhibition Collaboration draws inspiration from linguistics as an expression of Korean culture with respect of object and gesture analysis.

Exhibition View: Moon Jeong Min (Left), Joo Hee Chun + Jee Soo Shin (Far left, Middle), Miso Park (Far middle)
Exhibition View: Moon Jeong Min (Left), Joo Hee Chun + Jee Soo Shin (Far left, Middle), Miso Park (Far middle)

The project includes performances, conferences, workshops and videos. KAA brings together visual artists and musicians such as Ji Eun Jung celebrated interpreter of the Korean traditional harp, Se Young Jeong, Hyun Seok Kwon and the composer Tae Hwan Rho. The relationship with sound in Korean music is equivalent to the search for the essential of visual art. The relationship between the two compositions is tackled by Joo Hee Chun and Jee Soo Shin in the work White Blessing. The white thought is a sketch on a surface on which it is difficult to write notes. The musical score is a free path which extends itself on the canvass as an emanation of itself. Jee Soo Shin’s musical composition searches the primary sound which accompanies the white origin of all things.

Exhibition View: Soon Yul Kang (Right), Jeong Min Moon (Middle), See Hee Kim (Far left)
Exhibition View: Soon Yul Kang (Right), Jeong Min Moon (Middle), See Hee Kim (Far left)

Soon Yul Kang’s creative conception is based on the relationship with the invisible. The artist chose as the theme of her work the relationship between Yin / Yang and the five elements: Wood, Water, Metal, Fire and Earth. Wood and metal, which are in conflict according to the artist, become the body of the dialogue with the other elements. Soon Yul Kang expresses her idea through wooden circular shapes. The three sculptures analyse the relationship between the five elements represented chromatically by open rings. The interruption of their circularity corresponds to the question the artist asks about the energetic flows which are at the root of any life form. There is nothing more mysterious for the artist than to imagine the energy of the primary elements and reflect on their dynamics. The study is close to Delaunay who defined a chromatic symbolism with geometric forms in order to modulate the perceptive flows of sight and hence of feeling. The transformation that takes place in the retina corresponds to the same passages of the soul.

Se Hee Kim: Observation of the Invisible (left) and Cell Diary (right) (2013)
Se Hee Kim: Observation of the Invisible (left) and Cell Diary (right) (2013). Video, drawing, installation

Se Hee Kim explores the invisible through the behaviour of one’s own cells, creating an observation journal. The dynamism captured by the artist is a fractal route in which the observer loses all sense of direction!

Even though it is a real physical movement, some things which happen inside us become theoretical creativity. An example of this is the work of Seung Joon Lee and Li Ju Kim, who establish a relationship between a Korean bozagi map with the work of Mondrian. From the confrontation of these two artistic expressions which belong to different cultures and periods appears a friendly work as the artists themselves have defined it. The project is concerned with the echo of Mondrian’s map. He lived abstraction as a form of spirituality. With Broadway Boogie-Woogie (’42-43), Mondrian establishes a relationship between his work and the map of Manhattan. The line is the result of internal tensions that converge on the layout.

Sung-Hwoa Gong: Swimming Narwhal (2013).
Sung-Hwoa Gong: Swimming Narwhal (2013). Video Animation

For the artist Jeong Min Moon, the white centre crossed by black signs is the symbol of the conflictive system between dark/light, male/female, peace/war, stillness/movement, etc. The attention to some oriental philosophies has become great in the XX century as a social concern as demonstrated by Greenpeace who has commissioned the multimedia artist Sung Hwoa Gong. In the darkness of the sea, white narwhals, a symbol of the threatened arctic animals, dance a life in the round as in The Dance by Henri Matisse. The image is rich in poetry and makes one reflect on the circularity of existence that involves the life of man even in its most unexpected expressions.

Ki Hyun Kim, Eu Rim Kim, Brian Johnson & Clarence Chan: Soul Mandala Love 2-2, (2013)
Ki Hyun Kim, Eu Rim Kim, Brian Johnson & Clarence Chan: Soul Mandala Love 2-2, (2013) Mixed media on board, 240x240cm,

The Mandala of artists Ki hyun Kim, Eu rim Kim, Brian Johnson, Clarence Chan, is the result of an alliance among independent artists in the UK and Korea, it is the symbol of unity par excellence, is the harmony from which the universal good derives. The same immigration re-enters the natural transformation project, in social life this phenomenon is coloured in different values and in the individual sphere, the separation is a wound which memories maternal blessing, the search for identity alleviate and maybe even cure! The photographic work of Mi So Park builds a clear path underlined by a clear separation from the scene as indicated by two domestic colours.

Tae Hyung Kim & Ha Neul Shin: Sa-Yook-Shin, (2013).
Tae Hyung Kim & Ha Neul Shin: Sa-Yook-Shin, (2013). Photography & Oil painting,

The concept of memories and of Korean tradition is the basis for the the work by photographer Tae Hyung Kim and the visual artist Ha Neul Shin. Naming their work after the exhibition, the artists reinterpret the historical event known as The six martyred ministers or Sayuksin, who were executed in 1456 for plotting against king Sejo. The story is about a collection of poems in which the King asked them to repent. In turn, ministers had to reply with other poems. However, they refused and preferred martyrdom. The artists, through this historical example compose an invitation to tolerance. The images proposed are of a reflective or interrogative nature among architectural symbols which hint at possible openings although still closed.

Exhibition View: Eun Jung Seo Feleppa (Left), Sook Hee Kwon (Middle), Ha Neul Shin (Right)
Exhibition View: Eun Jung Seo Feleppa (Left), Sook Hee Kwon (Middle), Ha Neul Shin (Right)

Artists Eun Jung Seo Feleppa and Sook Hee Kwon revisit and interpret in a contemporary language the traditional Minwha painting which decorated Ch’aekkori screens with simple strongly evocative scenes with animals. The painting is completed with a textile art work and the sculptural insertion of a book!

The Collaboration exhibition proposes to the visitor a reality which cannot be directly visualised but which can be felt. A work of art, by definition, attempts to fulfil superior spiritual interests. The exhibition proposes with apparent simplicity forms and shades of the different realities which are the vehicle of deep concepts and notions, just as the ears or the skin allow music to flow to the mind!!

Vittoria Biasi
Art historian & Art critic

KAA’s 2013 KCC “합, 合, Collaboration” programme: the opening performance

Here is the programme for the opening performance on 28 August. Please RSVP to koreanartuk@gmail.com.

Collaboration banner

Ham graphic

Collaborative Performance

1. ‘Petal – like’ (꽃잎처럼)

Poem by Hye Kyung Park, Sabrina Park Kim (Piano Music), Chang Gyun Woo (Image)

2. Pochagi (보자기)

by Hye Lim Kim (Taegŭm and electronics)

Pochagi is Hye Lim Kim’s first elecroacoustic composition in which she uses elements of Korean traditional music. Pochagi is a Korean patchwork cloth that can be used as a wrapping cloth, and her piece explores the concept of Pochagi, extended to mean a container that can capture the diverse sounds of Korea music. The basic material for the piece is the Korean traditional bamboo flute, the Taegŭm. The acoustic instrument represents, to her, the characteristic Korean sound: the instrument is foregrounded to produce impromptu melodies that descend in various ways from traditional repertories. Meanwhile, the electronic sounds function as a magnifying glass, reflecting the minute layers of sound. In this piece, she attempts to bridge several dichotomies inherent in the flute and in traditional music – complexes of purity / noise, tradition / modernity and delight / sadness.

3. Bi (‘비’ 悲)

by Hyun Su Song (Haegŭm) & Eun Sol Lee (Dance)

This piece of music was composed in 1980 by the Korean master Young Jae Kim. The composition is a sorrowful melody from the provinces of Yeongnam, Honam and the north western provinces of Korea. It is folk music and performed with an Eotmori rhythm which gives the piece an atmosphere of lament and regret. The accompanying solo music for Haegŭm is strongly improvised in places. The accompanying dance portrays a woman’s heart towards a man who is facing death, praying that his pain and sorrow will vanish and that his life on the other side will be filled with eternal happiness. To lighten his path towards the other world a dance move called ‘ji jun’ and the beautiful, yearning sound of the Haegŭm was used in combination to create the piece.


Kayagŭm and Piano Duo with electronic sound (sound-escape) by Cho Rong Park (Composer), performed by Ji Eun Jung (Kayagŭm), Ko Eun Choi (Piano), Julian Toha (Guest Media Artist)

Grandmother, mother and daughter. The mother does not exist without her grandmother, and the daughter does not exist without her mother. The past is inseparable from the future. The future is projected from the past. The new is born of the momentum of the old. Moments gather to compose timelines that conjoin and form the wheels of history. Points, lines and circles are symbolic elements that capture the essence of this idea. They are sound-images used in this piece to express the interaction of these elements in history. ‘Points’ in time gather to form ‘lines’ in time, and these lines morph into ‘circles.’

5. Ko San (‘고산’)

by KAYA (Kayagŭm – Ji Eun Jung; Guitar – Sung Min Jeon) & Hyun Su Song (Haegŭm)

‘Ko San’, which means ‘Solitary Mountain’ was composed by Jin Goo Lee for three kayagŭm. In this arrangement by Ji Eun Jung it is performed on kayagŭm, guitar and haegŭm.

6. East Fantasia

by Tae Hwan Roh (Composer), performed by KAYA & Ko Eun Choi (keyboard), Jin Kyung Park (flute), Hye Jin Yu (violin), So Jin Kim (cello), Yun Shin (clarinet), Jea Hong Shin (Oboe)

‘East Fantasia’ is a piece which combines two distinct musical cultures: Korean traditional music and Western music. This piece was composed to display the sound of creation: a place of purity, where there is passion for life. As the piece begins with the foundation of the pure, elemental and spiritual, the peacefulness progresses to express stronger passion through the rapid tempo and combination of the Kayagŭm and western instruments. This piece provides beautiful harmony and tempo.

7. Piano style

(K-pop music & Dance performance) by Han Bit Cho (Piano), Ae Jin Han (Choreographer), Se Young Jeong and Hyun Seok Kwon (Percussion), 5 Dancers.

In this piano version, K-Pop Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is reinterpreted through media and a wide variety of dance vocabularies such as contemporary dance, ballet and b-boy dance. Part of the popularity of K-Pop Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is owed to Psy’s singular horse dance, one of the song’s representative elements that have united global audiences. Dancing bodies can be regarded as a signifier of non-verbal communication, and a range of ethnicities can enjoy it without understanding different languages. This performance is inspired by the Korean musical dance-theatre production “Ballerina Who Loves B-Boy” and set to traditional Korean instrumentation with piano. Choreographer Ae Jin Han combines movement with the text of the dance-theatre and meaning in the joyful in Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”

8. Hap (‘합’ Collaboration)

by Jung Hyun Choi (Percussion), Jeong Min Moon (Painting), Shzr Ee Tan (Piano), Eun Sol Lee (Dance), Se Young Jeong & Hyun Seok Kwon (Percussion).

‘합’ Collaboration is collaborative performance with Korean percussion, piano, painting and dance. In this performance, Jeung Hyun Choi and Dr. Shzr Ee Tan will be improvising with two Samulnori rhythms: tasurum and kutkori. While they are playing, artist Jeong Min Moon commences Dripping Work, based on American abstract artist Jackson Pollock’s Dripping, and the audience will be invited to participate. When the kutkori rhythm starts, the dancer joins the performance and her foot is used as a paint brush, creating a new collaborative art work.



KAA’s 2013 KCC “합, 合, Collaboration” programme: the conference and workshop

This year’s programme at the Korean Cultural Centre entitled 합, 合, Collaboration includes a conference and workshop. Details below (click on the image for a full-size flyer). Please RSVP to koreanartuk@gmail.com.

Collaboration conference flyer